The unique composition of silicone that gives it both rubber and plastic properties makes its application popular in many production industries. If you are in the food processing or pharmaceutical industry, metal-detectable silicone ought to be your high-hygiene and food-safety material of choice.
In this article, we discuss metal-detectable silicone properties, benefits, and manufacturing processes.
We also highlight its common products or forms, and their application in food processing and pharmaceutical industries.
But first, the definition…
1. What is Metal-detectable Silicone?
Metal-detectable silicone is a synthetic rubber material with metal particle additives that make it easy to detect by metal detection systems.
The use of metal-detectable rubber products in the food processing or drug manufacturing industries is important in preventing food contamination.
There are chances that particles of silicone products can contaminate the food or drugs being processed and affect consumers’ health. That’s where metal-detectable silicone becomes important.
2. The Importance of Metal-Detectable Silicone
Contamination of processed food by metals remains a significant concern for many food processing industries.
At every stage of food processing, food passes through a metal detection system as a safety precaution measure.
This ensures that any metal contamination is detected early and removed from the processing line.
But, there could be other non-metallic contaminants originating from within the industry.
These can be pieces of rubber or fragments of worn-out silicone seals with may not be easily detectable.
When such contaminants are distributed with food or drinks, these can adversely affect food or drug quality and safety standards.
Your business reputation or brand can be ruined when customers begin to complain about finding foreign bodies in their purchased food. You do not want to reach this level.
So, there has to be a way to detect all possible contaminants that may get into your food processing line.
This is achieved by ensuring that the silicone materials used within different sections of your food or pharmaceutical manufacturing establishment are metal-detectable. How is this important? This is how…
Should any unwanted piece of broken silicone rubber or seal from within your production, or food handling area finds its way into the food being processed, it will be detected by the metal detection system, and automatically removed from the processing or the packaging line.
This ensures that maximum food hygiene and safety standards are maintained to protect your customers from the risks of consuming contaminated food.
For easy detection, identification, and immediate notification of contaminants, other systems such as X-ray detection systems, or magnetic separation systems may be considered.
3. Metal-detectable silicone – The Manufacturing Process
If you are wondering how metal-detectable silicone material is manufactured, here are the general stages based on the Silicone Extrusion process
3.1 Mixing of Silicone Ingredients
Once you have all the ingredients you require for your particular metal-detectable silicone in its recommended ratio, you have to thoroughly mix them to form a homogenous base mixture.
Your main ingredients will consist of molten silicone rubber and metal-detectable particles or fillers.
You also need to add your desired colorants and suitable curing agents also referred to as cross-linkers.
3.2 Extrusion Process
The homogenous silicone mixture is then passed into an extruder with a die for your required silicone shape or size.
Depending on the die design, the process produces a continuous metal-detectable silicone rubber tube, sheet, or strip which is then cut based on your desired sizes
3.3 Metal-detectable Silicone Curing Process
In this stage, the extruded silicone is exposed to high temperatures to facilitate the curing process. This causes the cross-linkers to react and form a solid material.
3.4 Final Process
In the final process, the food safety silicone can then be cut or molded to suit your industry application requirements.
4. Metal-detectable Silicone – Key Properties
You may be tempted to think that because metal-detectable silicone has metal particles, it is hazardous in the food industry. Quite the contrary.
The truth is that the food safety silicone has desirable properties that make it perfect for use in a high-hygiene environment especially where contamination risks have to be managed effectively and timely.
Here are the main positive properties of metal-detectable silicone:
4.1 Eliminates Possible Food Contamination
Metal-detectable silicone has metal additives. So, they can be easily picked up by your metal detection system should their particles come into contact with food or pharmaceutical products during the processing stages.
Metal-detectable silicone is made from FDA-food-safe material. It is, therefore, non-toxic and perfect for use in food processing or pharmaceutical industries.
4.3 Non-allergic and resistant to Chemicals
Food safety silicone does not react with most chemicals including solvents. This makes it a perfect material to use including in environments that are more likely to have chemical exposure
4.4 Temperature Tolerance
Silicone is highly resistant to heat and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures depending on its form and application design.
For instance, some metal-detectable silicone gaskets can operate at temperatures of about – 60° Celcius to 200° Celcius(-76° F to 392° F).
This makes it ideal for use in high-temperature environments like in the food processing industry.
Because silicone is resistant to temperature and other environmental factors, it can serve you much longer without undergoing degradation.
Its durability makes it a perfect material for your sealing and adhesive applications.
Further, being metal detectable, your food safety standard remains higher for longer!
4.6 Flexible Structure
The chemical structure of silicone makes it flexible.
This makes it ideal in areas where flexibility and adaptability are required while ensuring food safety.
5. Benefits of Metal-Detectable Silicone
Below are some of the key advantages you will derive by using this food-safety silicone in your food processing or medical manufacturing industry:
5.1 Simple & Cost-Effective Solution
The food-safety silicone is a simple and cost-effective solution for the guaranteed safety and high-level hygiene of your food products.
5.2 Enhances Your Food Safety
Because your silicone material is metal-detectable, incidences of contamination by particles or pieces from the material will be eliminated.
This is because contaminants can be easily detected and removed through metal detection. And so, your food products will be contamination-free and safe for consumption
The silicone provides long-term stable performance and offers a lasting food-safety standard. This is because they are not easily affected by excess temperatures or other materials they come into contact with.
5.4 Application Versatility
You can use food-safety silicone products for a wide range of industry applications. These can be in the form of metal-detectable silicone gaskets, seals, tubes, or pipes.
What’s more, you can even ask for customized metal-detectable silicone seals to suit your industry’s requirements.
5.5 Easy to Clean With Low Cost of Maintenance
Silicone materials such as sheets are easy to clean using a wide range of mild detergents.
And so, your maintenance cost will remain low.
5.6 Lowers Customers’ Complaint Rate
By using FDA-approved metal-detectable rubber, possible instances of contamination are timely detected before the processed products find their way to the final consumer.
Therefore, instances of your consumers complaining about contaminated products and injuring your products’ brand in the process, will be effectively minimized.
5.7 Low Insurance Costs
Adopting the use of food-safety silicone that can be picked up by a metal detector means your risk for a liability claim linked to food contamination will be low.
As a result, your insurance company is more likely to offer you a discount on your insurance costs. This is because you have taken a step to reduce a potential business risk.
5.8 Reduced Wastes Due to Contamination
Your ability to detect contaminated products from your processing line before delivering them to customers means only a few of your products may not be fit for consumption.
The inability to detect contaminations may result in large quantities of contaminated products being rejected by customers.
Using metal-detectable silicone will reduce contamination wastes and other associated costs.
6. Metal-detectable Silicone Products & Applications
Food-safety rubber products for use in food processing industries and pharmaceuticals come in different forms and sizes to suit different application requirements.
All of them, however, ensure that any possible contamination of your processed food by worn-out particles is quickly detected.
So, here are some of the most common food-safety silicone products for your food industry and medical manufacturing application:
6.1. Metal detectable Silicone seals and Gaskets
If you are in the food, beverage, or medical industry, a metal-detectable silicone seal is your food-safety solution.
It keeps food from leaking while preventing contaminants from getting into food.
The silicone seal is perfect for your food-grade transfer pumps and other food-processing machines.
It prevents leakages between flat surfaces or flanges and improves food safety and hygiene.
For instance, within the food processing and pharmaceutical industries, you need the most suitable metal-detectable silicone gasket for your Tri-clamp sanitary fittings. https://youtu.be/AoMPtyQEu5k?si=I4Vm0A7YChb7fYKo
It is important to note that these food safety seals and gaskets come in different grades and forms.
You can order a custom food safety silicone gasket to suit your industry needs.
Here are some of the other most common types of metal-detectable silicone seals you can consider for your industry.
- Rubber Silicon gasket seals
- Metal-detectable valve seals
- Metal-detectable conveyor belt seals
- Metal-detectable custom silicone seals
6.2 Metal Detectable Silicone Rubber Strips
Within the food processing or drug manufacturing industries, metal-detectable rubber strips are ideal for insulation of doors, windows, and food containers.
They are also perfect for sealing machine joints and cushioning moving parts of machinery.
This is a great addition to your industry materials and a positive step in containing possible food contamination.
You can order custom silicone rubber strips from a trusted manufacturer to suit your industry needs.
6.2 Metal-detectable Silicone Rubber Sheet
Metal-detectable rubber sheets are commonly used in food processing and pharmaceutical industries for maximum food safety.
The silicone sheet is food-safe with FDA approval. It is, therefore safe when in direct contact with your processed food.
When used as a food-holding or sorting sheet, it can help in quickly identifying foreign items that may be in your food material.
Should the silicone’s particles erode or get worn out with time and get into your food during processing, they can be easily detected by the metal detection system.
Silicone sheets come in different sizes or rolls which you can cut to suit different applications.
They can be used as seals, gaskets, and for general cushioning
6.3 Silicone Hoses, Tubes, and Pipes
Metal-detectable tubes, hoses, and pipes are used to dispense water, juices, or other flowing food ingredients within the food processing industry.
You can also use a silicone water hose to dispense cleaning detergent at different food processing locations.
Because these are common items used within the food and drug production industries, ensuring they are metal-detectable is necessary for maximum food safety.
6.4 Metal-detectable Silicone Molds
If you are in the candy production or baking industry, then you will find custom metal-detectable molds ideal for keeping your food safety standards high.
6.5 Metal-detectable silicone sponge
This is yet another form of metal-detectable cleaning and food-safety product for your food processing industry or medical manufacturing.
The silicone sponge is an ideal material for cleaning conveyor belts, food processing areas, and other food food-handling surfaces or containers.
Should part of the sponge erode and enter your food processing line, the contaminant is timely detected by your industry’s metal-detection system.
Appropriate action is then taken to keep your products safe.
6.6 Metal-detectable Silicone Buttons
In the food and pharmaceutical industries, several electronic devices come with standard silicon or rubber buttons..
These devices can be office calculators, TV remotes, and equipment switches among others.
However, you can only achieve food safety if these devices come with metal-detectable buttons.
This is because buttons from these gadgets can easily get into your food processing area and cause contamination.
Making them easy to detect and remove enhances your production hygiene and safety standards.
6.7 Metal-detectable Silicone Dots
Storage drawers or cabinets within your food processing establishment need food-safety rubber material.
Apart from easy metal detection, the silicone dots also cushion your drawers against scratches.
Failure to take the necessary action to ensure maximum hygiene and safety within your food processing or pharmaceutical sector is a big risk that can be costly.
Therefore, you must consider the most suitable metal-detectable silicone products for your industry application to mitigate food contamination risks.
The safety silicone is food-safe, non-toxic, non-reactive, and non-allergic.
These properties among others, make them highly suitable for your wide range of industry applications.
Fortunately, you can order custom-made silicone products that suit your industry needs from a reputable manufacturer.
Embracing metal-detectable products is a smart strategy for achieving cost-effective production, maximum hygiene, and high safety standards.